Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Ophelia Blows Through

It took most of the day for the gales force winds of storm Ophelia to arrive. It wasn't until the early evening that the winds started to pick up.
Temperature & Hi Wind Speed Records 15-17 October 2017
The gale force winds have continued through the night and into Tuesday morning. They're forecast to abate through Tuesday afternoon. The highest gusts so far recorded have been 26mph which isn't the highest of the month, that is 28mph on 02 October 2017. For us Ophelia hasn't been any worse than lots of other wet and windy weather we often get in autumn. 

Like many others we had a very eerie glow in the sky on Monday morning. It was very dark for much of the morning without any hint of sunshine.
The reason for the redness in the sky was due to Ophelia's strong southerly winds bringing dust from the Sahara and smoke from the forest fires burning in Portugal.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

More Balmy Weather and An Ex Hurricane

We managed a visit to the plot under our own steam on Saturday for the first time since 06 September. It was a very mild October afternoon with the temperature reaching 21.5°C (70.7°F), breaking yesterday's record and setting a new record for my weather station this late in the year.
 Temperature Records 13-15 October 2017
On the allotment it was a case of starting to cut the grass paths which have continued to grow in our absence, unlike most of our vegetable crops which have done most of their growing for this season.
It's time to start clearing away all the left over crops to the compost heap. Runner beans and climbing French beans have been cleared and the canes stored away until next year. Pea haulms now need to be cleared and some of Sue's early season cut flowers have done their bit and can now be pulled up and composted. In early September the bees were still enjoying the cardoon flowers but although,  these are now finished the dried flower heads still look good so I might leave them on the plants through winter.
Another grass strimming session should see the paths tidied up. 
Monday is forecast to be another mild day as ex hurricane Ophelia closes in. By all accounts its set a record by becoming the furthest east, in the Atlantic Ocean, that a hurricane has been recorded. The forecasters are suggesting it won't any longer be a hurricane by the time it arrives here late on Monday but it will still be bringing severe gales to some parts of the UK.
Wind Speeds for 16 October 2017 at 16:00 (from https://www.ventusky.com/?p=53.4;-6.4;4&l=gust&t=20171016/15)
It looks like a serious storm is heading our way.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Balmy Weather

As forecast Friday turned out to be an exceptionally mild day for the middle of October with the temperature reaching 20.8°C (69.4°F) the highest I've recorded this late in the year since starting my records in 2010. However, the overnight temperature Friday night into Saturday morning has been even more exceptional with the temperature not falling below 17.0°C or 62.6°F.
Temperature Record 14 October 2017
That's easily the mildest October night I've recorded, the next highest being 15.4°C (59.7°F) on 19 October 2014. It's also the mildest night since 17 June this year. We didn't have any nights this mild through July, August and September.
Although Friday was a breezy day, it didn't turn out to be as windy as forecast. More very mild weather is on the cards for the weekend and into Monday. Ex hurricane Ophelia is forecast to pass to the west of the UK on Monday. There seems to be some doubt about the exact course the storm will take but it looks like Monday could turn out to be wet and windy.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Record Late October Warmth?

It's forecast for us to have some very mild temperatures for mid October over the weekend and possibly the start of next week. Over the last seven years we've had a couple of occasions when the temperature made it into the low twenties centigrade or above about sixty eight Fahrenheit. These were both in 2014 when we managed 20.0°C (68.0°F) on 18 October and 20.2°C (68.4°F) on 28 October that year.
I haven't recorded any higher temperatures than these later in the year.
I’ve posted this blog post late on Friday morning and although it's cloudy and breezy the temperatures a very mild 18.9°C or 66.0°F. Will we break my record?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Gales Forecast?

The forecast is for a very mild but wet and windy Friday with similar conditions through the weekend. The last couple of days have been mild and a bit breezy. We had some heavy showers on Wednesday afternoon and into the early evening but nothing like the amount suggested by the weather forecast.
Temperature & Rainfall Data 09-11 October 2017
We did have some excellent news on Wednesday. At my hospital appointment, I was told that I could resume driving. It’s been a month and a few days since I had to stop driving but it’s seemed far longer than that. I’ll be less likely to complain now when I can’t get past a bus picking up passengers at a bus stop.

We’ve quite a backlog of jobs to do. All those simple jobs that just involved a quick journey by car tend to be put off when it involves a bus journey or two. We need some bags of compost from the garden centre. It's not an easy job to accomplish using public transport.

Once those jobs are done we can turn our attention to the allotment. There’s plenty of grass cutting to be done which will keep me busy for a little while.
On our last visit to the plot I made a video of our first carrot lifting session of the autumn.

I might be tempted to try lifting a couple of parsnips soon even though we haven't had a frost which is supposed to make them sweeter.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Fine Weather For Harvesting

We've managed three dry days in a row and it's remained on the mild side for early October. On Sunday we were lucky enough to get the offer a trip to the allotment and back from our plot neighbour Jan.
To say the plot has been neglected for the last month it's not looking too bad. We've had a few visits, one each week, thanks to friends. On each of these visits we've concentrated on harvesting fruit and vegetables rather than any other jobs that needed doing. 

One of the main catching up jobs will be strimming our grass paths. With plenty of rainfall in September the grass has grown well over the last month and is now pretty long. It will be a test of my strimmer.
Besides picking more apples and harvesting a few vegetables I managed to tidy up our collapsed runner beans. These were pulled off the supporting canes and piled in a heap ready for composting. As I had expected all the supporting canes had been snapped at ground level so that's 30 replacement canes required for next year. The lengths of broken canes will be fine for other jobs around the allotment but won't be long enough for runner beans supports.
Our Clapton cauliflowers had past their best and blown. Our irregular visits meant that we hadn't visited at the right time to harvest them.
There was nothing for it but to chop them up and add them to the heap of runner bean stems waiting to be composted. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

A Rare Harvest - Melon "Emir"

The first week of October hasn't been too bad weather wise. Temperatures have been a little above normal mainly thanks to some mild night time temperatures rather than high daytime ones. Early Friday morning was the exception with the temperature dropping to 5.7°C or 42.3°F. 
Temperature & Rainfall Records 01-06 October 2017
Friday was then the sunniest day of the week and as forecast it turned out to be dry too. The rainfall wasn't as bad as my chart makes out as it only amounts to 5.6mm (0.22in) for the week.

We decided to harvest one of our melons which have been growing, through the summer, in our greenhouse at home. The variety is called "Emir". Although the plants produced plenty of flowers they were reluctant to set any fruits.
Melon - "Emir"
We had three plants growing in the greenhouse but only one appears to have produced any fruit or at least I haven't managed to see any yet amongst the tangle of foliage.

To mark the very rare occurrence of having a melon to pick, I decided to make a short video of the special event.

We've still got at least two smaller melons to try.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

A Windy Start to October

October has got off to a windy start will gale force winds dominating the weather over the first 5 days of the month.
 Temperature & Wind Speed Records 06 September - 05 October 2017
We'd avoided any really strong winds since the middle of September when the gales brought down our runner beans at the allotment. The winds over the last few days haven't done any damage at home apart from overturning a bird table which the birds won't have been too happy about.
As I looked around the garden this morning after more overnight gales, I didn't find any other damage. I noticed that this allium head had parted company with the rest of the plant. It's a pity as I think the dead heads look attractive and usually last through autumn and into winter.

It's also rained on the first 5 days of the month too which means we've had rainfall on 35 of the last 37 days going back to the end of August. Surprisingly there's no rain forecast for tomorrow (Friday) so maybe we'll get a rare rain free day.

Monday, 2 October 2017

A Wet September

I blogged enough towards the end of September about how it had rained most days in the month. By the end of the month we'd finished up with 28 days when some amount of rainfall had fallen.
Annual Rainfall Data for 2017 to Date
I've highlighted September's figures which indicate the 28 days with rainfall and also show that we had 35.1mm (1.38in)more rainfall than average in the month with 76.8mm (3.02in) of rainfall. That makes it our second wettest September in my records with 2012 holding onto the record with 79.2mm or 3.12in. We're still heading for a lower than average rainfall for the year though as that "departure from normal column" indicates. However, we're about 42.7mm (1.68in) below average at the end of September as that total of -88.4mm (-3.48in) needs adjusting to allow for October's rainfall.
I've been through my weather station records to determine if we'd had any more months with so many days of rainfall. As it turns out we have.
Rain Days with 0.2mm or more of Rainfall 2010 - September 2017
The shading in the table goes from red least number of wet days in a month to blue indicating the wettest days in a month. The only other month with 28 wet rain days was January 2014 but as there's 31 days in January and only 30 days in September I think it's fair to say this September takes the record.

In the middle of September we had some windy weather which was strong enough to blow over our runner beans.
Runner Beans 22 September 2017
They fell over in a very tidy fashion but I'm guessing that to fall over in such a way most of the supporting canes will have been broken at soil level.

September was the third month in a row with below average temperatures. After a promising start to the year with above average temperatures in May and June tempting us to think some good summer weather was on the way July, August and now September have all been below average.
Maybe an Indian summer is on the way?

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Edging Towards My Wettest September

It's the last day of the month and if we get any reasonable amount of rainfall this September is going to be the wettest since 2010 when I started keeping records.
Temperature & Rainfall Records for September 2017 (to 18:01 on 29 September)
The wettest September I've recorded was in 2014 when we had 79.2mm (3.12in) of rainfall so as you can see from this months chart shown above we're up to 74.8mm (2.94in). There's certainly some rainfall forecast for Saturday, the last day of the month so we may beat that 2014 record.

As we haven't been down to the plot since Tuesday and at the moment we haven't got any visits planned. On Thursday during a spell of rather nice autumnal weather I made a short video showing inside our home greenhouse and summerhouse.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Another Plot Visit

Wednesday night into Thursday morning was our wettest spell of what has turned out to be a pretty wet September. We had 12.4mm (0.49in) of rainfall in total overnight bringing our monthly total up to 71.2mm or 2.8in. Our monthly average for September is 41.7mm or 1.64in so we're heading for double our average rainfall for the month.
Rainfall September 2017
After a rather cool spell through much of the middle of the month, the last few days have been milder with temperatures around average rather than below it.

We had the offer of a lift to the plot and back home again this week, so on Tuesday our friend Graham gave us the chance to do a little bit more harvesting.
A full list of what we managed to harvest can be found here.

We'd bought some autumn and winter cropping brassicas from D T Brown's and they were in rather desperate need of planting out. When they arrived they were potted into 5 in pots to grow on. They were ready for planting out some time ago but with our trips to the allotment limited they'd grown a little bit leggy in their pots.
I was on light duties again so whilst Sue got on planting out the brassicas I had a wander around the plot with the camera and tried to make a video of some of the bits that I missed on last week's trip. I did do a little bit of harvesting.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Made It To The Plot

Monday morning was misty and wet with some rain but the afternoon was a little bit brighter and drier.

We managed a visit to the plot last Friday to do a little bit of harvesting. I made a short video of our visit.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Pond Watercress - A Lettuce Substitute?

The weather over the weekend wasn't too bad with Sunday the brighter and milder of the two days. The temperature on Sunday made it up to 19.7°C (67.5°F) a little milder than the average for late September. It's only the third time this month the temperatures managed to creep above that expected average.

Now I know it's not a difficult crop to grow but I always seem to find it difficult to keep a successional crop of lettuce going through the season. I'm usually alright with the first crop of the year. They'll get plenty of attention and more than likely be planted up to grow on and mature in our raised bed at home.
Early Lettuce Crop in Raised Bed
It's after that first crop that things go downhill. I forget to sow some more seeds, the seeds germinate only to be eaten by slugs, young plants dry out if we get a sudden spell of hot weather or if they manage to survive all these stages they get infested with whitefly or greenfly.

In late spring Sue suggested planting a sprig of watercress we'd bought from the greengrocer in the pond. Neither of us had any idea whether the watercress would grow or if it did would it be eaten by the fish in the pond. Anyhow, Sue first rooted a sprig of watercress in a jar. (Sue posted details here). It soon produced a mass of fine white roots and we decided we'd move it to the pond. I sunk a spare pond planting basket in a shallow area and the rooted watercress sprig was placed in the basket. The lip of the basket was above the water level so the watercress wasn't able to float anywhere it wanted.
Initially the sprig didn't do much growing and looked like all it was going to do was produce some flowers and die off. Then, without us really noticing, it took off, initially growing out of the pond and over the path in front the summerhouse. As it grew some had to be trimmed back to keep the path free. This still left us plenty of watercress to be used as a lettuce replacement in lunchtime sandwiches as required.
It's now given up trying to take over the path to the summerhouse and decided to try for pond domination instead. I've removed lots to the compost heap. By lots I mean bucket loads.
A lunch time sandwich usually involves a fresh tomato and cucumber from our home greenhouse and some super fresh watercress from the pond.

Now we're wondering if the watercress will survive overwinter in the pond or will we have to splash out and buy a bunch of watercress from the greengrocer next spring and start the process all over again.
Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary http://ossettweather.blogspot.co.uk/ author M Garrett

Friday, 22 September 2017

A Rain Free Day At Last!

It took the official start of autumn to bring our long spell of consecutive rain days to an end.
Temperature & Rainfall Details 29 August - 22 September 2017
Thursday was our first rain free day this month although in truth it wasn't much of a day. As the last couple of days of August were wet too that's a total of 22 consecutive days with some amount of rainfall. I can't find anything close to that in my eight years of record keeping. 

There wasn't any sunshine on Thursday and it threatened to rain for much of the day. It wasn't until late evening that the clouds began to break up leaving the skies clear overnight. 

The clear skies resulted in our lowest temperature of the month as the thermometer fell to 4.5°C (40.1°F) by dawn on Friday.
Friday has started off as a lovely sunny morning with clear, blue skies but there's a distinctly autumnal feel to the morning.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Will It Rain Every Day This Month?

The cool and unsettled start to September continues. We've still not had a dry day this month. I've checked through my records for the last 7 years and can't find another occurrence of this happening. The closest I've been able to find is December 2011 when the first 13 days of the month had some rainfall before the 14th day was dry.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 01-19 September 2017
Not only have we not had a single dry day but it's remained chilly too. This year is just managing to stay a little bit milder than 2015 but it's almost 4°C (7°F) cooler than last year's average of 16.9°C (62.4°F) by the 19th of the month. However, as you can see from the table last year was an exceptionally mild start to autumn and by far the mildest I've recorded at this stage of the month.
September 2010 - 2017 Average Temperatures
Tuesday morning started off with some lovely sunny spells but the penalty for that was a very chilly start to the day with an early morning low of 5.0°C or 41.0°F. 
A late rose and fuchsia flowers make the most of a dry spell and some Tuesday afternoon sunshine.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Wet Start To September

September's got off to a very bad start. It's started off cool for early September with only 2015 colder since I started keeping records 8 years ago. It's also been a wet start to the month. I've not been through my records to check but it's certainly unusual to record some rainfall every day up to the 16th of the month.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 01-16 September 2017
It's been a month of sunshine and showers so far.
So far we haven't had an exceptional amount of rain but there doesn't appear to be much change in the weather over the next week or so. At this stage of the month, only 2010 was wetter, with 48.8mm  (1.92in) in 2010 and 41.8mm (1.68in) this September. We've still some way to go to beat our wettest September in 2012 when we had 79.2mm (3.12in) of rainfall.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Aileen Blows Through

The first low pressure system of the autumn and winter was given the name Aileen. She made her presence felt overnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning. She didn't bring much rain but did bring a strong to gale force wind.
Temperature & High Wind Speed Records 11-13 September 2017
With a maximum gust speed of 27mph, it became the equal highest wind speed I've recorded in September since 2010. The only other occasion was on 16 September 2013.

The problem with strong winds in September is that trees are still in full leaf and fruit so the risk of damage to them is higher than during the winter months.
Fiesta & Bramley Apples
Perhaps I should have picked more apples on our last visit to the plot?

Monday, 11 September 2017

2017 Potato Trial Results

I often think the meteorological change on 01 September from summer to autumn is a little bit premature, after all proper summer carries on until the 21 September doesn't it? Well not this year the start of September has seen the start of autumn with some cool, cloudy and wet days. We're still awaiting a rain free day this September.
Temperature & Rainfall 01-11 September 2017
If you follower either my blog or Sue's blog you will be aware that over the last few years we've carried out a rather unscientific trial of a few potato varieties that we either haven't grown before or haven't grown for a few years. Any really good crops are added to our main list of potatoes for the following year. We've done this since we found out that a local garden centre, The Horticentre, holds a potato day at the end of January with around 50 varieties to choose from. If you wish it's possible to buy individual tubers of any of the varieties. We settled for four tubers of each of the six varieties we wished to trial.
The tubers spent the first few weeks until planting time in the summerhouse. In there they had plenty of light and we hoped a frost free environment. Planting time was early April.
Planting Plan for Trial Potato Bed
I didn't think the potatoes had a particularly good growing season. The young shoots were badly damaged by frost in early May and their main growing season was on the dry side. We resisted the temptation to water any of them.
May's Frost Damage to Variety Cara
The potatoes recovered well from the frost damage and by June they were growing away very well indeed, despite the dry weather.
Varieties Osprey and Isle of Jura in the Foreground
By the time it got around to late August the tops of most varieties had died back naturally, although Cara and Saxon still had plenty of green haulms. 
I decided to lift the crop in any case. Each variety was lifted and weighed including any potatoes eaten by slugs or suffering from wire worm damage. They were left to dry on the grass for the afternoon before being boxed up to be transported home. 
At home the damage could be properly assessed as it's no good trying to store damaged potatoes over winter. The damage was noted and is shown in the table below.
Results of Potato Trial 2017
Of the six varieties Cara performed the best followed by Rooster and Osprey. I'd definitely consider growing any of these three as one of our main potato varieties for another year.  The difficult question is which of our current varieties would they replace. One will be a replacement for Winston which, although it produced a heavy crop this year, the potatoes were very badly damaged by slugs.

Of the other varieties Innovator produced some good sized spuds but it didn't match up to the top three. Isle of Jura and Saxon produced small crops which the slugs appeared to appreciate. Hardly any of their tubers were left undamaged and they weren't considered fit for winter storage.

I've also put together a video of this year's potato trial which is included below.